Predators may have multiple effects on prey, including the mortality caused by consumption, but also non-consumptive effects when prey alter their life history traits in the presence of predators. This study aimed to describe the consumption ability and the non-consumptive effects of Notonecta sellata (Heteroptera: Notonectidae) on immature stages of Culex pipiens (Diptera: Culicidae). Results showed that adult N. sellata were capable of preying on all larval instars, although they consumed more individuals of the 2nd and 3rd instars. Immature mosquitoes raised in the presence of, but without contact with, predators showed a slower development and smaller-sized emerging adults than those raised in the control treatments. Similar survival rates were recorded in the predator and control treatments. The present study suggests that N. sellata adults negatively affect Cx. pipiens populations in two ways: a) by increasing immature stage mortality as a result of direct consumption and extended development times; and b) by reducing their number of offspring, as a result of delayed reproduction and a lower fecundity of adults.
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Vol. 37 • No. 1